Golf Course Management

MAY 2019

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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Page 33 of 141

30 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 05.19 ough not often grabbing the head- lines of the day coming out of Washington, GCSAA's federal priorities continue to move forward. With the 12th annual National Golf Day just barely in the rearview mirror, progress is being made on issues related to golf course management, such as water ju - risdiction, pesticide registration, turfgrass re- search and labor availability. On April 15, the 60-day public comment period on the revised Waters of the United States rule closed, completing yet another big step in the process undertaken by the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to better clarify which waters throughout the coun - try fall under federal jurisdiction and which should be left to state and local governments to regulate. GCSAA submitted comments on behalf of the golf industry supporting the adminis - tration's efforts to clarify what constitutes wa- ters, such as tributaries and wetlands for fed- eral jurisdiction, and what does not. GCSAA superintendents and staff have also provided in-person testimony at hearings held by the EPA and the Corps across the nation. Mark Johnson, GCSAA's associate director of en - vironmental programs, and Matt Gourlay, CGCS, director of golf course operations at Colbert Hills Golf Course in Manhat - tan, Kan., and a 16-year GCSAA member, urged regulators at a hearing in Kansas City, Kan., to draft a rule that provides clarity for superintendents while taking into account their efforts as stewards of the land who use Moving forward on multiple fronts (advocacy) Michael Lee science-based agronomic and environmental best management practices (BMPs) to keep water bodies clean. Meanwhile, Eric David, Class A superin - tendent at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and a 10-year GCSAA member, stressed at a Small Business Admin - istration hearing in Washington that 95% of golf course facilities are categorized as small businesses and are impacted greatly by fed - eral regulation, such as the Clean Water Rule. On Feb. 25, the U.S. House of Repre - sentatives passed the fourth iteration of the Pesticide Registration and Improvement Act, with the Senate following suit a few days later. PRIA provides the funding mechanism for the EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs, which is tasked with reviewing, registering and approving all new pesticide products be - fore they come to market. PRIA 4 reautho- rizes the program through 2023. GCSAA has actively lobbied in support of long-term reauthorization of PRIA to create a more predictable pesticide registration and re-registration review process of active in - gredients used on golf courses. EPA collects PRIA application fees paid by manufacturers to ensure timely evaluation of new, innova - tive pest-control products. Scientifically ad- vanced inputs are critical to the work of su- perintendents, and GCSAA was happy to see PRIA signed into law by President Trump on March 8. We will continue to monitor imple - mentation of the law at EPA. Turf covers over 60 million acres and is the fourth largest crop in the U.S. Benefits are enormous, ranging from public health, landscaping and recreation, to environmen - tal sustainability and impeding contaminant runoff into waterways. e 2018 Farm Bill includes language that would benefit the golf industry by authorizing funding for turfgrass research that supplements BMPs. GCSAA is working with Congress to gain support for $3 million in the FY20 Agriculture appro - priations bill to fund the National Turfgrass Research Initiative. Finally, a tight labor market continues to create headwinds for many industries, in - cluding golf. e H-2B visa program for tem- porary, seasonal workers is one solution to the labor shortage problem, but the program has become extremely unreliable, since em - ployers often don't know from one year to the next if they will receive the workers they have applied for. A strong economy is consistently showing that a decades-old, congressionally mandated cap of 66,000 visas made available each year is not nearly sufficient to meet the needs of employers. Congress must raise the cap or provide cap relief through other means, such as the returning-worker exemption, which has peri - odically been used in previous years to allow for additional visas. In the FY 2019 DHS ap - propriations bill, Congress gave the Depart- ment of Homeland Security the discretion to issue nearly 69,000 additional visas beyond the cap. DHS recently announced its inten - tions to make available only 30,000 of those visas. While this is better than nothing, we will continue to encourage DHS to release the full amount — and to do so quickly as the 2019 golf season comes into full swing. As GCSAA members continue to identify labor needs as a top concern, we will remain focused on this issue by working alongside our partners in the H-2B Workforce Coali - tion, conveying to DHS the economic reali- ties and consequences of their inaction, and we will continue to urge Congress to pass meaningful reform of the program. Any long-term reform effort should provide cap relief while also streamlining a burdensome application process involving multiple federal agencies. As small businesses, golf courses can remain economically viable only when labor needs are met. is is why we will con - tinue to fight for the availability of workers. e GCSAA government affairs team ap - preciates the opportunity to serve a growing membership of more than 18,000 golf indus - try professionals and will continue to look for opportunities to advance the golf course management profession in Washington and state capitals throughout the nation. To learn more about these issues and others, please contact us. Michael Lee is GCSAA's manager of government affairs.

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